Valentines Day Massacred – Rice and Things Review

I hate Valentines Day as much as the next person. It’s overpriced, it’s pointless, and you’re forced to join armies of other couples in the same position, dressed up, sitting in some restaurant decked out with various red and pink atrocities and candlelight, staring awkwardly at each other and holding hands over the table while both of you is secretly wishing you were in the pub or curled up on the sofa watching ‘enders.
So, this year I decided to work, and my fella came to meet me at five so we could head out for a drink of something. Neither of us had eaten, and we decided to go out for some food, somewhere not too cheesy, and, we reckoned, being so early, we would miss the mad romantic masses.

We decided on Rice and Things in Stokes Croft. Neither of us had been before, and I’m half Caribbean so a bit of food from home seemed just the job. Not the case.
We had, as planned, missed the Valentines Day rush (there was one other table eating downstairs) yet when we asked the waiter for a table for two, he looked utterly confused, and we sat for ten minutes while he checked with the chef. I term him ‘chef’ very loosely, as we didn’t actually get any food during our trip. We were eventually seated, and it took another twenty minutes for the staff to bring us a menu. The selection averaged out at about £15 a main course, and after an initial panic and quiet discussion about whether we should find somewhere cheaper, we decided, sod it, it was Valentines Day after all, and ordered a £16 bottle of red and perused the menu. The wine came out in a bucket of ice. Odd, I thought, and for such a pricy menu, you would assume a better level of service. We ordered starters and mains from a waitress who had clearly never seen the menu before, asking us to point at all the items. And we waited. And waited. After half an hour, I asked the waitress to check what was happening with the kitchen, which she did, telling us food was on its way. We waited some more, and sipped our freezing red wine.

Fifteen minutes later she returned to tell us that they had run out of the starters we had ordered. I was bloody starving now, we reordered (no apology for the wait or the fact they didn’t have what we ordered) and we watched another couple, who clearly knew the staff and were warmly greeted by the chef, sit down and order. Within 15 minutes, the other couple had a delicious looking whole lobster and various other tasty treats. Sod this, I thought, we’d been waiting over an hour now, and I was not only hungry, but a bit tipsy from the red wine. I asked to speak to the chef, as the waiting staff clearly had no idea what was going on.

‘He’s very busy at the moment’ I was told.
Doing what? Not cooking apparently.
We cancelled our order, and decided to finish the wine and head off somewhere else. We asked for a discount for the inconvenience.
‘We can’t do that I’m afraid’.
Right. Neck it, and let’s go I told my bloke.
A minute later a waitress arrived to say our food would be ready in about 20 minutes.
‘What? I asked. ‘We cancelled the order’.
‘But he’s cooking it now.’ She said.
‘So what was he doing before?’ I asked. No response.
Too late. We got up to pay for the wine. He waiter offered us £1 off, and when I said that was the very least they could do, he replied in a very surly manner,
‘Well, you’d have your food by now if you hadn’t cancelled it.’
As if I should be sorry for inconveniencing them. Bunch of jokers.

So, in conclusion, may I strongly suggest giving Rice and Things a miss. It’s expensive, the staff are utterly incompetent and bordering on rude, and you probably won’t get any food anyway. We headed to Asian Spicy just down the road and were immediately seated, had a lovely meal, and for a fraction of the price. Alls well that ends well I suppose. Belly full and another bottle of much cheaper, room temperature red wine, I was happy again. At least we had a good laugh about it. Bloody Valentines Day.

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